Homeowner blasts council for 'wasting money' after missing vital deadline

A woman has criticised Northumberland County Council for a waste of money after it failed to fit solar panels to her home as part of the Green Homes Grants scheme.

By James Robinson
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 11:14 am
A woman has criticised Northumberland County Council for a waste of money after it failed to fit solar panels to her home as part of the Green Homes Grants scheme.
A woman has criticised Northumberland County Council for a waste of money after it failed to fit solar panels to her home as part of the Green Homes Grants scheme.

Bev Begbie, who lives on Augustus Drive in Bedlington, was due to get the green tech fitted to her house in March, and even had scaffolding put up on her bungalow.

But the work was postponed twice, and after the end of the month, Bev was told that the deadline had passed and the funding to complete the project was no longer available.

Bev said: “It was all organised, they had the surveyor come out on March 4 and it was supposed to be fitted that month, but it was put off twice. They came and put the scaffolding on, but then I was told there was no funding because it had to be done by the end of March.

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“They actually sent somebody round to take the scaffolding down on Easter Sunday. It had been there for weeks – what a waste of council money. I just can’t believe it.

“It is council money that they are wasting. This happened to eight properties on this estate alone. If that has happened here how many more places are there all across Northumberland? It’s the council that have footed the bill.

“To me, what they’re doing is a waste of money to everyone who is paying their council tax.”

The Government’s £2bn Green Home Grants provided vouchers and funding to local councils to cover up to two-thirds of the cost of a range of improvements from solar panels to heat pumps, up to a cost of £5,000. Those in receipt of some benefits may cover up to 100 per cent of the cost.

However, the scheme had a delivery deadline of the end of March 2022, meaning if the work was not completed in time the funding was not available.

Northumberland County Council blamed the tight time frames for failing to complete the work on time – but moved to reassure residents that no council money had been wasted.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Through the Government funded Green Homes Grant, we endeavoured to deliver on all eligible homes before the end of March 2022 deadline. We would like to apologise to those households which were not informed sooner that they would not be completed in time.

“However, we would like to reassure people there has been no waste of council money. The council worked with delivery partner, Eon, and their chosen sub-contractors, and costs were only claimed on works that were fully completed. All the money that was paid to them for completed projects came from central government grants, not council funds.

“The extremely tight time frames, Covid, and multiple supply chain issues across many key sectors meant that despite everyone’s best efforts, Eon were unable to complete all of the eligible homes before the funding and our working agreement with them had to come to an end.

“We are, however, fully committed to helping facilitate energy efficiency in people’s homes across the county, especially as energy prices rise, and we are working on a new method of delivering government funding to help with this.

“Through our ‘Warmer Homes’ scheme, eligible households can apply for future government funding, and we sincerely hope this method will provide a more streamlined system of delivery for our residents.”